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Coldham Hall Sailing Club
Yare Navigation Race

Sponsored by Jeckells the Sailmakers
CHSC Premier Event

CLASSIC BOAT ARTICLE from1990 In 1976, Coldham Hall Sailing Club decided to reintroduce a passage race for river cruisers only, to be held on a Saturday in late September when low water on Breydon Water was at a reasonable time- midday or early afternoon. Thus the Yare Navigation Race was born. It rapidly became the premier cruiser race on the Norfolk Broads, taking the fleet from Coldham Hall, Brundall, down the River Yare to a mark on Breydon Water near Great Yarmouth and back, a distance of some 30 to 34 miles depending on the exact placement of the buoy on Breydon. At Reedham, where the railway swing bridge presents a particular hazard, the yachts are timed out of the race whilst they negotiate the narrow bridge channel. Skippers are allowed to choose their own start time (at fifteen minute intervals with no more than ten yachts starting at any given time) and obviously they hope to reach the Breydon mark just after the tide has turned, thus giving them the tide for the whole race. The decision, "when to start", can often win or loose the race.

In the early days, the Yare Navigation Race was limited to sixty Broads Cruisers but by 1989, seventy two entries had been accepted. There have been many years, however, when only a fraction of the starters have finished. In 1980, only twenty eight boats finished when the wind died completely and a thick fog rolled in. One yacht, Condor, sank after hitting an unseen channel marker on Breydon. In 1985, only twenty one completed the course because of near gale force winds; indeed, eight yachts broke spars (including four lost masts). Conversely, in three of the last four years, the number of finishers has been reduced by the wind falling off in the late afternoon; a problem which is compounded by the last one and a half miles passing through a tree lined reach. In 1986, one yacht took eleven hours to complete the course, while in 1989, only thirty-eight of the seventy starters finished.

The results are worked out on a local handicap. A percentage of each yacht's time being added or subtracted to their elapsed time to give the corrected time. Handicaps range from -25% to + 11% to ensure that all the entries have an equal chance. However, the faster boats with taller rigs have a distinct advantage through the trees and are more likely to finish before the breeze gives out. Many of the yachts entered are very old, lovingly restored and often sport rigs that have changed from the rather conservative hire boat sail plans to speedier and better balanced racing rigs.

However, as the years pass, an increasing number of entrants are new boats in GRP: Reflection (a Farrington 25), Mawther (a Farrington 20), Woodpecker (an Easticks 28) arid Melinda 4 (a Landamore 28). There were sixteen GRP boats in the 1989 race, many of which, like the older wooden hulled yachts, were gaff rigged and set topsails, making the sail area of the larger boats more than 1,000sq.ft (93sq.m). The sheer size of these river cruisers may surprise non-Broads sailors: Raisena, Dragonfly, Cuckoo and Farthing are all over 36ft (llm) LOD and Maidie (see CB20) is over 43ft (13.11 LOD. Racing these large over canvassed yachts on the narrow confines of the lower River Yare, requires much skill and nerve.

Breydon Water YNR2004

Breydon Water YNR 2004

Farthing 219

Farthing 219

Obviously as the length of the course can vary each year, there is no absolute course record. However the race is always at least thirty miles long and has twice been sailed in four and a half hours by Raisena (M. Broom) and Storm (M Clarke) With an average speed of between 6 1/2 and 7 knots - an amazing feat for a river course

Cuckoo 215

Cuckoo 215

Raisen 3

Raisena 3

There are several vantage points from where the yachts can be watched: Buckenham Ferry, Cantley, Reedham Ferry; Reedham Village and, if one is prepared to travel by train, Beney Arms at the head of Breydon Water. Whichever you choose, you are always next to a pub! Reedham Village is probably the best point for the land-based to watch as there can be as many as twenty yachts waiting for the bridge to open.

But the Yare Navigation Race is primarily for the yachts and their crews and, although we would all like to win, it is the participating that counts: after all, we get an interesting sail of 30 miles plus, starting and ending at a very good pub and whatever the weather, we are always guaranteed an excellent weekend.

Alan Davies - Classic Boat 1990

The 2004 YNR turned out to become one for the record book as this report from one of the competitors testifies

Yare Navigation Race 2004 - report by Nick Vowles (Modwena)

Windy windy windy, Way over canvassed on Breydon with only two reefs in and almost impossible to get the jib in tight with two broken winches. 55 entrants,44 actually started, 21 finished.The ones that went at 6am missed the worst of the winds and came in the top six. Henrietta came third and won their class, Blue Jacket was the overall winner. Privateer and Dryad lost their masts, Storm and Goldfish capsized,Raisena's main was ripped from the boom but they still managed to finish(behind us). Meggie broke all sorts of things trying to compete with Storm. Farthing ended up in a field with so much water on board the engine was swamped. The official wave size on Breydon was three feet (a bit tall I think) with the river police stopping non racing boats going on to it. We managed to come 17th due to misjudging the wind direction at the start,but made it round the course.